Book Review #47: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2021)

Rating: 4 out of 5 ⭐️
Title: Malibu Rising: A Novel
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published: 2021 (Ballantine Books, New York)
Pages: 365 (Hardcover)
Genres: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, Drama
CW: Alcoholism, Drug Use, Strong Language, Sexual Content, Marital Affairs, Mental Health Issues

She had to choose what, of the things she inherited from the people who came before her, she wanted to bring forward. And what, of the past, she wanted to leave behind” – Taylor Jenkins Reid, Malibu Rising

Hello! I’m here to interrupt your hopefully decent Saturday to talk about a wonderful book I finished last week, Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I was excited for this one, because I loved another of Reid’s novels, Daisy Jones & The Six. So when I saw this one was being released, I knew I had to read it. The plot seemed intriguing, and the cover looked pretty (see pictured above). Malibu Rising seemed to be a divisive narrative about family and legacy. Plus, I loved Reid’s writing style in Daisy Jones so I knew this one was going to be a contender.

Your whole world can be falling apart, she thought, but then Springsteen will start playing on the radio” – Taylor Jenkins Reid, Malibu Rising

Malibu Rising is a work of narrative fiction taking place in 1983 about the Riva siblings: Nina – a surfer married to a pro-tennis player living in a Malibu mansion, Jay – a world-renowned surfing champion, Hud – a famous photographer, and Kit – the baby, college-aged sister and wannabe surfer. The siblings, even though they are the children of famous crooner singer Mick Riva, are bound by tragedy and hardship amongst beautiful Malibu. The story takes place over the course of a day, the day Nina holds one of her famous parties, where locals and celebrities gather for one last raving all-night party of the summer. The parties have grown larger as each year goes by, but this year the party is not the usual rave. The siblings are each dealing with their own personal struggles, and eventually those struggles and unspoken feelings clash together to reveal a truth about each of them. Malibu Rising is a spectacular work of fiction about legacy, family, identity and love. The book jumps narratives between the siblings perspectives, to flashbacks of their mother’s story in the 60s with their father, Mick Riva – only reinforcing the theme of legacy.

When there is only you, you do not get to choose which jobs you want, you do not get to decide you are incapable of anything. There is no room for distaste or weakness. You must do it all. All of the ugliness, the sadness, the things most people can’t stand to even think about, all must live inside of you. You must be capable of everything” – Taylor Jenkins Reid, Malibu Rising

I was really impressed by this novel. There were a lot of good quotable quips about the major themes in the book, and the author’s writing was also definitely still on par. The plot, for being a little underwhelming at times, was intriguing for the most part and kept my interest. I was definitely dying to know what happened next when the narratives switched to another story line. This was a great summer read too, especially due to the dreamy descriptions of 1980s Malibu. The way the author described the setting was believable and sufficient. There were a few difficult and adult subject matters in this book as well that were a little hard to get through, but nothing too heavy. The way the author wrote about the inner dialogues of the main characters were heartfelt and authentic.

Nina understood, maybe for the first time, that letting people love you and care for you is part of how you love and care for them” – Taylor Jenkins Reid, Malibu Rising

Why should you read this book? If you’re a fan of speculative adult fiction taking place in 1980s Malibu, CA with serious undertones, this is the book for you. I definitely recommend Malibu Rising, especially if you’re a fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s other novels. This novel touches on a lot of topics and emotions many persons can relate to, and Reid communicates them very well, which is why I think this was a rewarding read.

Do you have a favorite novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid?

I give this one a 4 out of 5!


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